Editor's Note: With spring practice now concluded, HoosierNation.com will be doing a daily analysis of each of the positions in the coming days. Today we start with the quarterback position...
IU Coach Terry Hoeppner has been steadfast in his refusal to elaborate on how "open" the quarterback position was this spring and now into the fall. While Powers did throw a school-record 23 touchdowns last fall, he also threw 16 interceptions and his struggles during the season's final month coincided with Indiana's season-ending six-game losing streak.
While there were generally no depth charts during the spring, it was apparent that at least for now, Powers is Hoeppner's No. 1. During most of the scrimmage settings Powers got most, if not all, of the snaps with the No. 1 offense. Graeme McFarland, meanwhile, spent the majority of his time with the No. 2s and redshirt freshman Kellen Lewis worked with the No. 2s and No. 3s, suggesting it's clearly Powers-McFarland-Lewis heading into the fall.
From my perspective, that's the right order based on what unfolded this spring. Other than a very poor outing in the team's first public scrimmage April 1, Powers generally was the best performer during the spring. He put an exclamation mark on that with his 7-of-11, 289-yard, three-touchdown effort in Saturday's Cream and Crimson game when he led the Cream to two fourth-quarter touchdowns to overcome a 10-point deficit and pull out a 31-27 win.
While Powers might have been the star of the scrimmage, McFarland wasn't far behind. The senior-to-be completed 10 of his first 11 throws and finished 11-of-17 for 217 yards and two touchdowns while splitting time with the No. 1 (Cream) and No. 2 (Crimson) offenses. Like Powers, McFarland was on target with his deep throws, connecting with Chris Banks for a 65-yard touchdown and with Lance Bennett on a 50-yard gainer. In addition, McFarland was probably a little better at knowing when to get rid of the ball in face of pressure, as Powers was the victim of five sacks Saturday.
Lewis, meanwhile, is the most electric of the three quarterbacks with his strong arm and ability to make plays with his feet in the open field. While he's not as elusive as former Hoosier Antwaan Randle El, Lewis is extremely difficult for defenders to wrap up one-on-one and when he gets in the open field he resembles a running back or a wide receiver more so than a quarterback. His biggest shortcoming right now is experience and decision-making. He is prone to forcing throws into coverage when there's nothing there and is probably the most turnover-prone of the quarterbacks right now. That more than anything is why he's still solidly the team's No. 3 heading into the summer.
Biggest Surprise – Until the spring-ending Cream and Crimson game, the team's scrimmages and 11-on-11 practice work was generally lacking in big plays downfield from the passing game. Occasionally that was because the quarterbacks weren't getting the time for plays to develop and sometimes it was because the throws weren't on target, but the inability to produce big plays downfield was apparent for most of the spring. Of course, all that changed Saturday, when Andrew Means, James Bailey, Jahkeen Gilmore, Chris Banks and Lance Bennett all had receptions of at least 50 yards. That's a good sign because there is an over-abundance of wideouts on the IU roster that can make plays if given the chance by the quarterbacks.
Biggest Disappointment – Personally, I expected Kellen Lewis to make more of a push for the starting job this spring. While the redshirt freshman from Florida certainly had his moments both through the air and on the ground, he hasn't been able to unseat either Powers or McFarland for the top two spots on the depth chart. There's no questioning Lewis' physical skills, but his decision-making needs to catch up before he can be given serious consideration as a potential starter.
Spring Position MVP – Powers. Hoeppner might not say it publicly, but the 6-5 junior-to-be strengthened his hold on the starter's job with his play this spring.
Post-Spring Analysis- Quarterbacks
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